Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reading: A Brief History Of Seven Killings/ Marlon James

I  read about  the novel when the Rooster was going on. I’ve never read Marlon James before, but discussions on the book by Rooster’s judges and readers piqued my interest.

A Brief History Of seven Killings is literary fiction in the guise of a thriller without much of a plot and all of its characters busy doing something sinister, hideous and even ghastly. The setting is Jamaica mostly, but you get also a bit  of US as the  characters change their base.

The novel is full of violence, Jamaican style, from gangsters’ street -fighting to killing to rape to police atrocities.  The country is portrayed as one without even a semblance of law and order anywhere. There’s no sane person or voice anywhere in the novel. All you find is a morbid and dreary literary landscape.

Despite this, it is an interesting rather than harrowing read. One reason might be that the novel is driven by different voices – first person accounts of all of its characters, though the voices sound more or less alike and barely distinguishable.

The characters are an interesting mix:  gangster, drug lord, CIA man, diplomat, journalist, celebrity, call- girl, even someone who got killed.  As you get to read their account, Jamaica emerges with some of its angst, deprivation and nuance. And though it’s more filmy than literary,  I found it worth my time.

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